The Electronic Warfare crested-collar insignia were pinned on graduates of the specialist course for the first time in December. The crest's lightning bolt, key and shield symbolize electronic attack, support and protection, respectively. ()
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The 29 series is at 98 percent of its approved strength for enlisted troops, and at roughly 50 percent strength for officers and warrant officers, a product of the duration of their training.
The 29 series, which recruits from other career fields, remains competitive. The Army has more warrant officers, enlisted troops and officers requesting to come into the 29 series than it is accepting, said Lt. Col. Steven Oatman, Army Electronic Warfare School director.
"I'm pretty sure there are no incentives and bonuses for EW, and that's because we're pretty close to reaching our end strength goals on the noncommissioned side," Oatman said. "There's a selective look at the background [of a candidate] and how they fit into our community. The hardest I ever studied, aside from my master's degree, was in the FA 29 course."
Because EW is so new and the community is so small, preference is given to strong leaders, people likely to get the attention of operations officers and commanders who are senior to them.
"It's a small [military occupational specialty], with not a lot of numbers in their formations, so they have to convince the commander at whatever level of operations they're at that EW is important," Oatman said. "It's going to take a pretty bright individual who has competence and confidence."
The Army pamphlet that lays out the career progression for the 29 series, DA PAM 600-3, has been updated to include the career path for officers and warrants.
The EW crested-collar insignias were pinned on graduates of the specialist course for the first time in December. The crest's lightning bolt, key and shield symbolize electronic attack, support and protection, respectively.
Col. Gary R. Hisle Jr., the director of the Electronic Warfare Proponent Office at the Combined Arms Center, said the first colonel was selected for the senior service college this year and that at the last master sergeant board, all eight of the EW candidates were selected.
"We're in a wireless world where the electromagnetic spectrum is growing, so the importance of EW is growing more and more," Hisle said. "That's why it's a career field soldiers, officers and warrant officers want to explore."
The Army began EW training at Fort Sill, Okla., in 2009 with the FA 29 officer qualification course followed by the 29E specialist course, the 29A officer course and the 290 warrant officer technician course.
Fort Sill also offers a six-week operational EW course to noncommissioned officers, officers and warrant officers, as well as personnel from the other services. The course is for a service member who is not an EW specialist but is serving in an EW role and provides an additional skill identifier, 1J.
To be considered to become an enlisted EW soldier, the soldier must be an E-4 promotable or an E-5 and re-enlist for the 29E EW specialist MOS.
Enlisted course: The first half of the nine-week enlisted course includes doctrine, the fundamentals of EW and the science of electricity; how to jam an adversary's transmitter; the basics of the electromagnetic spectrum, and how radar and satellite systems work.
The course's next half brings hands-on training in a counterradio electronic warfare laboratory, and it teaches familiarity with EW systems from the other services and the special operations community. Trainees conduct mounted and dismounted operations on training ranges and troubleshoot faults and conflicts between systems.
For the final exercise, trainees write the EW annex for the ground tactical plan for a hypothetical brigade-level or division-level operation. They brief the annex as if they were the unit's staff.
Warrant officer course: This is a more in-depth, 16-week version of the enlisted course.
Senior warrant officers' advanced course: A 10-week advanced course is offered for senior warrant officers, CW3s and CW4s, which would include a cyber operations block. These warrant officers would conduct some of the same roles as FA 29 officers at division or corps level, and assist them.
Officer course: A 13-week version of the enlisted course.
Senior leader's course: This eight-week version is in the works for battalion E-6s and brigade E-7s, with a pilot underway. The course is a requirement for promotion to master sergeant, Oatman said.